Sun, 26 May 2019
THERE were emotional scenes on Tuesday evening as former West Berkshire councillor Marcus Franks was posthumously recognised for his dedication to serving the community.
Mr Franks, who represented Speen ward, died from bowel cancer last month at the age of 46.
In addition to his council duties, Mr Franks also served two terms as president of Newbury Round Table and played a huge part in organising the popular Crafty Craft race.
He also did much for the community through his work at Sovereign Housing Association.
In recognition of his service, he was awarded the title of Honorary Alderman at a West Berkshire Council meeting on Tuesday evening.
The Local Government Act allows local authorities to give the title to anyone who is deemed to have provided notable service to the council and become and advocate for the wider community.
There was a touching moment as Mr Franks’ wife Nicola and his two children, Adam and Klara, collected the award to a round of applause.
The council’s outgoing chairman, Carol Jackson-Doerge, thanked Mr Franks’ friends and family for attending.
She then told her colleagues: “I am sure you will all agree that he thoroughly deserved to have this honour bestowed upon him.”
Outgoing council leader Graham Jones said it was a “privilege” to propose Mr Franks, who he described as “a good friend and a dedicated public servant”, as Honorary Alderman.
“I was lucky to spend an hour or so with Marcus a couple of weeks before his death,” he said.
“I took him a letter recommending he had the honour of becoming an Honorary Alderman.
“I am pleased to say he was delighted by the award and accepted.”
He added: “Despite the unfairness and injustice of the situation, he did not complain and he was upbeat.
“I left not only knowing I was saying goodbye to a friend, but also uplifted by his incredible spirit.”
He finished by saying: “There was no grandstanding with Marcus, he was a guy who rolled up his sleeves and got on with the job with purpose and determination.”
Mr Franks’ close friend and work colleague, opposition leader Lee Dillon, also paid tribute.
In an emotional and heartfelt speech, Mr Dillon said: “When myself, the chairman and the leader looked at it [the decision to give Mr Franks the title of Honorary Alderman] it was a one-second decision.
“It was quite clear that Marcus’ role in West Berkshire – in this chamber and in the community – has been immense over the last number of years and it is right that we award him with this honour.”
Newly-elected council leader Lynne Doherty said: “Someone said to me ‘he is one of the good ones’ and he was, he was just that, he was one of the good ones.
“Marcus related to people. He was genuine and kind-hearted and automatically warmed you to him with his quick wit and one-liners.
“He was someone I both trusted and admired.”
Mrs Doherty said she spent time with Mr Franks just two days before he died and “even then he was still thinking about others”.
She added that they talked about a scheme called Minding the Gap – an idea that Mr Franks had come up with to encourage and recognise progress in disadvantaged children.
Mrs Doherty called on her fellow councillors to make a joint commitment to see this vision realised, “so not only will we be honouring Marcus with the Alderman award, but we will be looking for a fitting tribute to our colleague and friend”.
Later in the meeting, a minute’s silence was observed my members of all three political parties.